Rocchetta Mattei: the mystic castle to feel inside an Esher painting

Rocchetta mattei bologna
Just an hour's drive from Bologna there's a place where a miracle medicine was founded, a hippogriff greets you at the entrance and where you can get married within an Esher's painting.

No, I have not exaggerated with Pignoletto.
It's Rocchetta Mattei, a unique castle between the Apennine hills. Perfect for adults and kids, it will make you stand jaw-dropping.

The new medicine of Cesare Mattei

Cesare Mattei was born in Bologna in 1809 from a rich family.
He founded a bank, he was a Parliament deputy and a close friend of the Pope.

The key event which marked his life and led the building of Rocchetta Mattei was his mother's death.

That event produced in Cesare a deep mistrust in traditional medicine. Then he studied and create an alternative medicine that he called electro homoeopathy.

Electro homoeopathy is based on granules enhanced with electricity, that Mattei believed to be able to capture in his fluids.

His purpose was to restore the balance between body electric charges and bring the painful part to a neutral state.

The success of these treatments was enormous and immediate. He sold it around the world, especially in China and India.

Mattei founded the first drug multinational company, even mentioned by Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov.

Rocchetta mattei - Gate

One of the gates of Rocchetta Mattei. Its position was inspired by Copernican's planets constellation.

The turbulent history of Rocchetta Mattei

In 1850 Cesare Mattei purchased the land where stood the ruins of the ancient fortress of Savignano.

In the same year, he started to build there the castle that would have called Rocchetta. He settled in from 1859 and personally followed the construction.​

After Cesare's death, Rocchetta Mattei didn't live a happy time. During the Second World War, it was occupied and severely damaged by German troops.

In the 60's it became a restaurant and hotel and closed in 1989, with the owner's death.

Rocchetta Mattei reopened to the public in 2015.

Rocchetta mattei bologna - Alhambra

An arabesque courtyard inspired by Alhambra in Granada

The symbols of Rocchetta Mattei

Nothing at Rocchetta Mattei is what it seems.

Copernican's planets constellation inspired the design of ​Rocchetta Mattei. The clock tower is the centre (that would be the Sun) and the halls are the planets that revolve around it.

At the entrance a statue of a lion, a hippogriff (yes Harry Potter' fans, definitely him) and harpies greet you.
Christian, pagan and astrological and esoteric symbols and references are endless.

Rocchetta Mattei Cordoba

Mattei's tomb it's a miniature of Cordoba cathedral in Spain, with striped columns and a decorated ceiling.

Inside an Esher's painting

Room after room the styles change.
Pass through the arabesque representation of Alhambra's courtyard in Granada, to a pentagonal room where Mattei used to receive his patients.

After the entrance, you meet the room of 90s'. It's there where Mattei expected to celebrate his 90's birthday with other 90 people, also 90 years old. Too bad he died earlier, at the age of 87 (a lot for that time).

But the most surprising place is the chapel which houses Mattei's tomb. It's a miniature of Cordoba cathedral in Spain, with striped columns and a decorated ceiling.
From the slanting columns to the used materials, you'd feel inside an Esher's painting.

The hidden diamond

​Among the thousand secrets of Rocchetta Mattei, there's also a diamond.

Legend says it's kept in one of the pyramids that make up Mattei's lab ceiling.

No one knows if it's really there, but if you decide to get married in Rocchetta Mattei (yes you can!), you can celebrate your love between the mysteries of a unique place.

Rocchetta Mattei - Entrance

The entrance of Rocchetta Mattei with statues of a lion, a hippogriff and harpies

Why visit Rocchetta Mattei

With the beautiful village of Dozza, this castle is one of my favourite day trips from Bologna. It's just one hour by car from the city centre and in the middle of the Apennine hills.

If you visit Bologna with kids they will love the mysteries and secrets of this place.


Rocchetta Mattei
Strada Provinciale 62, 40030 Grizzana Morandi BO
Tel: 051 916845 - 051 6730311

Opening time
Weekend 9:30am-1pm 3pm-5:30pm with reservation required.


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